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Why Do People Write Poetry?

Updated on April 3, 2015
There are many different reasons to create poetry; here are some of the more common ones
There are many different reasons to create poetry; here are some of the more common ones | Source

Although poetry is an art form that is past its zenith, there are still millions of people that find great joy and release in writing it. Despite it being overshadowed by TV, movies and music, it still has an enduring capacity to inspire people and helps us to see the world in a slightly different way.

Many of us have settled down with a pen or a keyboard to commit words to the page, as a way to express ourselves through rhyme, rhythm, meter and structure. The question then, is why do people write poetry?

Although the reasons are going to be subtly different for everyone, there are several common themes - Areas that poets find to be a powerful motivation to express themselves. These include:

  • Catharsis - Challenging the areas of our life where we want to grow
  • Exploration - Seeing things from a different perspective
  • Experimentation - Playing around with words, rhythms and rhyme
  • Surprise - Learning little nuggets about ourselves and others
  • Expression - Saying something to the world

We'll explore each of these below.

Poetry as catharsis

Catharsis means that we write poetry to come to terms with something that has happened or is happening in our life.

Catharsis allows us to explore our feelings, no matter what they may be, in a safe way and allows us to grow as a result. Poetry can be a great way to capture these feelings, express them and understand what they mean to us and to others.

Poetry as exploration

Poetry is a great way to see something form a different point of view and to explore our imagination and psyche.

It allows us to play with metaphors, to construct images with words and to build a descriptive structure that other people can investigate. We can dive into the deeper parts of ourselves and bring forth other aspects of our personality, circumstances or the world around.

Poetry as experimentation

For some, poetry is an exercise in structuring words and language in interesting, quirky and challenging ways; it can be an opportunity to be playful and to hone our use of language.

We can set intellectual challenges, just to see if we can complete them, and there's something very fulfilling in being able to do that.

Poetry as surprise

Writing poetry can be like archaeology, carefully uncovering the secrets of our own psyches.

As we dig down into the loam of our experience and subconscious, we try to unearth nuggets of language and meaning. It also allows us to step into another's shoes and see things from their perspective.

Playing with the idea of 'What If' gives us a new appreciation and helps us connect with other people and the world around. It also lets us challenge ourselves in a safe way and keep an open mind about our thoughts and feelings.

Poetry as expression

Poetry is also a question of form and substance - We may not have much talent with music or traditional art, but we do have that need to express and create.

Because we cannot find the right note or wield a paintbrush, instead we rely on the rhythm, rhyme and flow of language and hope that the secrets we uncover might have some meaning and point of reference for ourselves and others.

As humans, we are inspired to create, share and express, and poetry can be the perfect medium to do just that.

Whatever our reasons for writing poetry, one thing is certain. We gain a greater understanding of ourselves, others and the world around through that act of creation.

That by itself is reason enough to embrace this wonderful art form and use it to express our thoughts, feelings, opinions and ideas.

Over to you - Why do you write poetry? What is it about it that speaks to you? Let us know in the comments.


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    • profile image

      Diana Abrahamson 2 years ago

      Love writing poetry and finding myself being transported into myself, to a place I have never been and to a liberated state of mind!

      You are so right.. you learn a lot about yourself too!

    • Rakim Cheeks profile image

      Rakim Cheeks 2 years ago

      Hello. Paul. All of your reasons from above are correct as it relates to people writing poetry. As a poet, I use poetry as exploration to challenge my mind with compelling thoughts. Great hub Paul. I enjoyed it

    • Paul Maplesden profile image

      Paul Maplesden 2 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I agree that it's a great form of expression - It combines words with art and rhythm. A good poem can make us think about things in a very different way, expand our understanding and appreciation and transport our emotions and thoughts to new places. Thanks for your comment.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Paul, I agree with all the above reasons to write poetry. To me it is the ultimate form of written expression, and especially when read out loud it's true worth beauty is apparent. It is a pity that poetry and poets today aren't given more credence. I am doing my best to try to help change that view as I know many others are. From the number of poetry groups on Google+ alone I know that there are still a lot of poets and poetry lovers out there. Thanks for this hub.